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Earthquake commemoration a time to reflect

Published: 30 January 2023

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February 3rd marks 92 years since the Hawke’s Bay earthquake and this year people will have the option of attending a special service for survivors and their families, or watching a livestream through Facebook.

The midday service will be held at the Waiapu Cathedral in Napier City. There will be a dedicated drop-off point outside the Cathedral for those who require additional assistance.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says there are many ways to mark the anniversary and each is valid.

“Some people remember the event and its impacts in a quiet moment of solitude, some get great strength from coming together,” says Mayor Wise. “It was a pivotal moment in our history and this day every year gives us an opportunity to reflect.”

“The spirit and resilience of Napier’s people was inspiring on that day and in the aftermath of the earthquake. I have the utmost respect for what they went through and for how they rebuilt our city with such innovation and energy into the wonderful place we enjoy today.”

The 7.8 magnitude quake began at 10.47am and lasted for 2.5 minutes with a number of aftershocks. Two-hundred and fifty-six people died, hundreds more were hospitalised and  thousands injured. Much of the city centre was destroyed, including the current cathedral’s predecessor. Rebuilding began very quickly and was predominantly contructed in the famous Art Deco style Napier is now known for.

The service is one way to remember how Napier’s people pulled together as a community to rebuild their city and their homes, says the Very Reverend Di Woods, the Dean of Waiapu.

“Last year, due to the pandemic, we arranged for a livestream of the service. We have decided to do the same this year, to allow others to take part in this special event,” she says.

The service will officially open with the ringing of the Veronica Bell, by Lieutenant Commander Paul Eady, Regional Navy Officer, RNZN. The bell is from HMS Veronica, in port at the time of the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. It is usually stored at MTG Hawke’s Bay and is brought out for significant occasions such as this time of remembrance.

Mayor Wise will speak at the service, along with Bishop Andrew Hedge. Mrs Marwa Mostafa, a representative of the Napier Muslim community, will read a passage from the Koran entitled ‘The Earthquake’. It will be translated from Arabic to English by Miss Syeda Waneeya Batool Naqvi, aged 13. The Cathedral choir will sing an anthem and lead the congregation in familiar hymns.

The service will be streamed live on and recorded so people can watch at a later time.

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